martial arts rant pt 2

By the way, one of the most profound things said to me in recent years was by this artist we had the chance of meeting a few years back when picking up a painting.

He was finishing his degree and going back to school in his forties. He was reflecting on the students in the class, who when posed a question had an insatiable desire to answer the question. And to be right. When really the professors often asked open-ended questions as well as questions where folks just don’t know the outcome. There may not be one. If there is one it might not always be the answer. Who knows. Point being, no one, he felt, could really sit with the silence of considering the question.

Anyway, this artist identified the driving emotion behind these incessant questions as fear, namely fear of the unknown and said, “Isn’t it great when you don’t know?”

Isn’t it great when you don’t have the answer?

 

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martial arts rant

I love exploring martial arts. Love doing it, seeing it, learning about it, reading about it, etc. and then every so often I read comments that make my blood boil. About the utility of Move X or Style Y, etc. I hate it. It takes all the fun out of it for me. I realize that this is just some folks way of processing and I know I’m not exempt. I just wonder if we can take a second to turn off the analyzing parts of our brains for two minutes to enjoy.

The more I become exposed to, the less I’m convinced that the practice of martial arts is very practical. Not to say that you couldn’t use some of the mindset and techniques learned in emergency situations. I’m just sick of reading through the commentary where long or short time practioners seem to either ask “gotcha” questions or “sell me on it” questions. So not interested in that because I feel like the person asking the question usually has their own ideas formulated anyway. They just want to see your thought process of rationalization of your own perspective. Stupid. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.

This is the same in other realms. It doesn’t have to be martial arts. It seems like if folks can’t find an immediate “purpose” for doing something that goes beyond it being enjoyable, they think it’s useless. Can we not have joy in our lives anymore? If it doesn’t meet some other requirement do we throw it to the way side? 

I see these requests for a justification on why incorporate X. Why can’t you answer your own question by experimenting and exploring a little bit? What does it do for YOU? Not asking everyone including your teacher for their opinion. It’s not even a good discussion topic. Isn’t it always generally good to learn as much as possible?

I know I need to increase my tolerance for these type of questions and responses. But I sort of feel as a teacher, guide, and mentor, it’s not necessarily your responsibility to be the hype woman or man for your area of knowledge. I do believe that people feel called and compelled to explore various things and that whole saying about the teacher appearing when ready. So why push and force the process?

Of course, I have times of being impatient towards the process as well. I sometimes ask things that are so open ended and yet esoteric, that if my teachers and guides have responded to me it’s usually disappointing and at very best sobering. You know it’s funny, but recently I was describing my tendency to do this not with just martial arts, but in life, and the lady I was speaking to said, “but you’ll never know! Not really anyway.” And she said it with such joy that I felt like, huh you’re right, it’s it refreshing to not have an answer? 

I think not knowing, FOMO, and imposter syndrome are very real things that prevent us from doing a lot. I play goalie with myself on questions and putting stuff out there all the time. Perhaps to a fault because I realize later while ranting that I actually have a lot to say about a given subject. Maybe the frustration comes from inherently knowing how frusrating it is to be in the dark and how you sometimes want to latch onto anything in order to make it seem more certain.

What if instead of spending hours, days, months, years justifying and analyzing and trying to map out everything, what if you just did and learned by doing it? Maybe this doesn’t apply to everything but I always feel like there’s baby steps you can do that turn out to be explorations themselves. And then if we were all gradually taking small steps towards figuring shit out, what would our questions and conversations look like then?